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Hunting time is family time for all 10 children in the Lines family
Dove Hunt 2011
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To say the room was busy would have been an understatement. This was the Lines family, after all.
Since Jonathan Lines' great-grandmother walked 700 miles from Utah to Arizona many moons go, the Lines' family have become a fixture in the Yuma community.
So as he sat at a conference table with his wife and eight of his 10 kids, Jonathan Lines was surrounded by typical chaos. It all started with 6-year-old Daniel, who slurped up his soup for the whole conference room to hear.
A few minutes later, one brother sat on the other side of the room fooling with a handheld video game system, while his two brothers spun Lines' office chair around and around. Minutes after that, 18-month-old Camille got into the act, banging her forehead on a glass door with a big smile on her face.
“This is my family,” Lines said with a big grin.
Virtually every fall since he was 12 years old, Lines has been looking forward to the opening day of dove hunting season. This year, dove hunting season starts on Sept. 1.
As a lifelong Yuma native, Lines is well aware of the tradition and excitement that comes along with dove hunting every season. Though he is a hunter at heart, Lines said dove season is about more than the thrill of the pursuit.
“It's not about hunting at that point in time. It's about family time and having those bonding memories and wanting to pass down some of those same experiences I had with my father. That's tied us together and it's always something I can look back on with fondness.”
As a son, Lines was plenty involved with dove hunting. As a husband and a father, the season has become a whole 'nother experience.
Before they were married, Lines' wife, Rosalie, wasn't waking up before the sun to go romp around fields and shoot doves. Things have certainly changed since the Lineses became bride and groom.
“When we'd shoot the big-caliber stuff, the baby inside would jump,” she said. “I don't hold back when I'm pregnant. I ride carnival rides and all kind of stuff.”
Lines said he feels like lucky man. He's the link between three generations of the Lines family, whose hunting group will only be getting bigger in the near future.
While all ages of children often join the Lines hunting group, only the older ones can handle their own guns. It's something of a rite of passage. Until then, the youngsters are corralled and used as two-legged birddogs.
Nowadays, four of Lines' children can handle their own gun. But with six kids ages 12 and under, they'll have plenty of birddogs to round up their rewards.
Weston Lines, 16, is the oldest brother of the group. He's been hunting for a few years now, but remembers the thrill of waking up for his first dove hunt. With daily hunts allowed to start 30 minutes before sunrise, the Lines family is usually up and moving by 3:30 a.m.
“It's been what you've wanted to do since you were a little kid,” Weston said. “It's dark when you wake up. It's always been, ‘Dad take me to work,' or ‘Dad take me dove hunting.' When you're little, you don't like nap time, you like getting up and doing something with your dad.”
It seems Lineses has succeeded in passing down his passion for hunting to his children, as Weston and 17-year-old Hailee recently fared well at national marksman competitions.
They have plenty of hunting stories, too. Like the time Weston, then 7, was left alone in the bed of his father's truck when he went for a quick quail hunt. As soon as Lines left, a pack of coyotes surrounded the truck and Weston yelled for backup.
Then there's the time they were driving past some trees, Hunter Lines grabbed a branch through the window of the truck and didn't let go.
“I was like, ‘Where's Hunter?'” Lines said. “Then I looked behind me and he's hanging off the tree.”
While big game hunting is always fun, there's something different about this season. By now, the Lineses have singled out their favorite spot (the “island,” as they call it) to hunt doves, while they also know a few more secluded spots that have been passed down through the years.
Once the hunt is over, the Lineses reap the real rewards of their hunt. Each Sunday, they host dozens of family and friends to come over for dinner. During dove-hunting season, they have produced some epic barbecue cookouts, with all the dove you can stomach.
“It's just a good time to get people together,” Lines said. “We like to cook a lot of the exotic stuff we've killed and give people the experience to try it out, too.”
In fact, the Lineses are such good cooks, they've even converted a vegetarian foreign exchange student into a meat lover. Indeed, 10 kids aren't enough for the Lines family, so they house foreign exchange students to stay busy.
“She told us, ‘Wow, when I get home I'm going to teach my mom how to cook meat,'” Rosalie said.